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On the Trail of the Lost Temple of Apollo / Excavations of Apollonia Pontica on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast

Location: Sozopol, Bulgaria, Bulgaria

August 3, 2013 to September 1, 2013

Session dates: 
: Session 1: August 3-17, 2013; Session 2: 18 August - 1 September, 2013

Application Deadline: 
Monday, July 1, 2013

Deadline Type: 
Exact date

Discount for AIA members: 
5% off the regular admission fee.

Program Type

Field school



New Bulgarian University (NBU), Archaeological Museum of Sozopol – Bulgaria, Apollonia Pontica Excavation Rroject , and Balkan Heritage Foundation - Bulgaria,

Project Director:

Dr. Krastina Panayotova, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Project Description

Apollonia Pontica was founded by Miletian colonists in the end of 7th century BC on the Western Black Sea Coast, ruled by that time by Thracian kings. Due to the trade of copper, gold, olives, wine and luxurious Mediterranean artifacts, it soon became the most prosperous Greek colony along the coast, know as Apollonia Magna. It was famous because of the colossal 13 meter high bronze statue of Apollo Iatros (the Hеаler), the town’s patron, which was the prototype of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. The statue was erected in the fifth century B.C. in front of Apollo’s temple on an island, identified by most scholars as present- day St. Kirik Island, where the field school excavations in 2013 will take place.

  • From the beginning of the 20th century on, the island was a closed military zone. It was demilitarized in 2005 and in 2009 Prof. Krastina Panayotova from the Archaeology Institute of Bulgaria started excavations. During four archaeological seasons, the team found several exciting sites on the island:
  • The earliest Greek settlement (seventh-sixth century B.C.)
  • A Late Archaic temple complex (late sixth - early fifth century B.C.): a temple and an altar – presumably belonging to the famous temple of Apollo; 
  • An oval altar and a temple from the Hellenistic period (fourth century B.C.);
  • A Classical Greek tholos (temple with a circular plan);
  • Several bothroi (pit altars);
  • An Ancient Greek copper foundry; 
  • Early Byzantine basilica and necropolis (fifth - seventh century A.D.).

The significant discoveries convinced the Bulgarian Government to declare the island  a cultural heritage site and to designate some of the abandoned military buildings  to be turned into a Museum of Maritime Civilizations.


The field school is suitable for beginners in Field Archaeology as well as for experienced students seeking to upgrade and further develop their skills and knowledge. The fieldwork activities, lectures and workshops are led and delivered by professionals in Field Archaeology, Archaeological Documentation, Conservation and Restoration who are affiliated with scientific institutions and organizations: Archaeology Institute of Bulgaria, New Bulgarian University, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, National Museum of History, Bulgaria, Center for Underwater Archaeology, Sozopol, Varna Museum of History.

The intensive field school agenda includes:

1) excavations of a complex site (digging, keeping a field journal, filling context sheets, drawing an elevation plan/ a ground plan/ a cross-section, 3D positioning of finds, taking coordinates with a level device, taking photographs, etc.)

2) finds processing workshops (sorting, analyzing, drawing, photographing, conservation, restoration, etc);

3) lectures on Classical and Field Archaeology;

4) excursions to various cultural and archaeological sites in the region.

Upon successful completion of the course, students will develop basic excavation, documentation and finds processing skills and knowledge.

Two field school sessions of the field school are available in 2013. Participants who join both sessions will have a different schedule during the second session and have more responsibility for tasks regarding the field work and workshops, as well as different excursions.


Participants will use the tools and equipment available at the site and are not expected to bring any additional equipment.

All participants will receive a field school certificate specifying the field school activities and hours and the visited sites.

Period(s) of Occupation: Archaic and Classical Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, and Early Byzantine (seventh century B.C. - seventh century A.D.)

The Apollonia Pontica Excavation Team, in cooperation with New Bulgarian University and the Balkan Heritage Foundation, are launching an archaeological field school supporting the excavations of ancient Apollonia Pontica (known as Apollona Magna in the ancient Mediterranean), present-day Sozopol, on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. The town was founded by Miletian colonists in the end of 7th century BC. As a result of intensive trade with the surrounding Thracian tribes and kingdoms, Apollonia became one of the richest and most prosperous Greek colonies (apoikias) along the West Black Sea Coast in the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic period. According Pliny the Elder and Strabo, Apollonia was famous throughout the Ancient World because of the colossal bronze statue of Apollo Iatros (Healer), the town’ s patron, and the prototype of the Colossus of Rhode. The 2013 excavations will take place on the small island St. Kirik, where the last years' excavations revealed remains of Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic temples, an Ancient Greek Copper Foundry and an Early Byzantine basilica and necropolis. The significant findings gave reason for archaeologists to assume that the island was the sacred precinct of the ancient town where Apollo’s temple and its statue was situated. The field school agenda is intensive and includes: 1) excavations of a complex site (digging, keeping a field journal, filling context sheets, drawing an elevation plan/ a ground plan/ a cross-section, 3D positioning of finds, taking coordinates with a level device, taking photographs, etc.) 2) finds processing workshops (drawing, sorting, analyzing, conservation, restoration, etc.); 3) lectures on Classical and Field Archaeology; 4) excursions to various cultural and archaeological sites in the region. Academic credits available. The venue is the small coastal town of Sozopol with Mediterranean climate and atmosphere, nice beaches, cozy restaurants with Balkan and Mediterranean cuisine, and many opportunities for leisure and recreation activities.

Project size: 
25-49 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 session (2 weeks)

Minimum age: 
17 years of age

Experience required: 
No, but all participants are expected to have some (at least theoretical) background in archaeological field techniques and methods. The participants will receive beforehand the field school handbook (in PDF version by e-mail and a hard copy on arrival) as well as list of recommended bibliography.

Room and Board Arrangements

The participants and the team will be accommodated in a small hotel close to the city beaches, sea garden and the old town quarter. The rooms have two to three beds, bathroom, air-conditioning and TV. Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee. Requests for vegetarian food are also accepted!

Early Bird Admission fee (valid through April 1st 2013): €1,259 (app. $1,510 but please check current exchange rates) including all educational and fieldwork activities, tools, materials, full-board accommodation, administrative costs, Project Handbook, issue of Certificate of Attendance and excursions/sightseeing tours/entrance fees. Regular Admission fee (valid after April 1st 2013): €1,399 (app. $1,799). Discounts off the regular admission fee are available in case of: 1) AIA membership 2) Participation in more than 1 BH project or project session in 2013. 3) Small Groups (two or three people, who participate in a BH project in 2013). 4) Larger Groups (four or more people, who participate in a BH project in 2013).

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria
Number of credits offered New Bulgarian University grants to students six credits for participation in one project session and nine credits for participation in two sessions. Transcript is available upon request for an additional tuition fee
€345 / 515 for 6/9 credits (for students outside EU). Participants who don't need academic credits, won't be expected to pay for the tuition fee.


Contact Information
Ms. Anna Parmakova - Admissions / Balkan Heritage Field School
204 Sveta Troitsa str.
Stara Zagora
+359 877 725 057, +359 888 165 402
Recommended Bibliography: 

Boardman, J. 1999. The Greeks Overseas. Their Early Colonies and Trade (fourth edition). Thames & Hudson.
Bouzek, J. 2003. Studies of Greek Pottery in the Black Sea Area. Oxford.
Grammenos, D. V., Petropoloulos, E. K. 2003. Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea. Vol. 1. Publications of the Archaeological institute of Northern Greece, Nr. 4.
Grant J., Sam Gorin and Neil Fleming. 2008. The Archaeology Coursebook: an introduction to themes, sites, methods and skills. Routledge.
Renfrew, Colin and Paul Bahn. 2006.  Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. New York.
Sparkes, B. 1991. Greek Pottery. The Introduction. Manchester University Press.
Theodore Pena, J. 2007. Pottery in the Archaeological Record. Cambridge University Press.
Tsetskhladze, Gocha R. 2006, 2008. Greek Colonisation: v. 1, 2: An Account of Greek Colonies and Other Settlements Overseas. Brill.